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Dr. MarianneSchuelein

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1934

Medical School

New York University School of Medicine


District of Columbia

Career Path

Pediatric medicine: Neurology
Education: Teaching
Dr. MarianneSchuelein


I had always been interested in medicine and related fields. It may have started when I was seven or eight and went to camp, where I was crazy about horses. I lived for riding horses. . . . I loved horses, taking care of them and I tried to learn as much about them as possible. One summer I learned all the bones of the body of the horse.

At Wellesley College I majored in zoology with a minor in chemistry. I was interested in science but I really didn't know what I could do with it. I thought I might become a laboratory technician or I could work in a museum. I had no concept of what careers might be open to me. I could do research, but didn't know what that meant.

I always knew I wanted a career. At one time, I wanted to be a veterinarian, another time I wanted to be a social worker. Well, medicine is such a wonderful combination of those two fields. At one time I wanted to be a journalist. I still haven't done that, though medical writing was something I considered at one time.

I wasn't sure I wanted to do it but I talked to my advisor at Wellesley, a wonderful woman from Switzerland named Teresa Frisch. My parents loved her and she loved my parents too. She said "Why not try it? If you don't like it you can always leave." I wasn't sure I could even do it but I did go directly to medical school, to New York University. I really loved medical school. I felt it was intellectually much more stimulating than college had been.


As a pediatric neurologist at Georgetown University Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s, Dr. Marianne Schuelein came to understand the problems of affordable child care from her own experience as a working mother. In 1973, as vice president of the District of Columbia chapter of the American Woman's Medical Association, she decided to present the issue directly to Albert Ullman (D-Oregon), chair of the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1976, Congress passed a law allowing child care tax deductions, enabling more women to work outside the home.

Schuelein was born in Germany in 1934. Although her family was well-respected in their home near Stuttgart, they were Jewish and already feeling the effects of Nazi oppression. They managed to emigrate to the United States in 1938, and Schuelein attended New York's public schools where she learned English. At Wellesley College she decided to turn her interest in science into a career in medicine.

Schuelein earned her doctor of medicine degree at New York University and did her internship at Yale University, where she settled on the specialty of pediatrics.

She married Ralph Krause, a mathematician, in 1960, and moved to Chicago for her residency in pediatrics, becoming increasingly interested in cases that involved the nervous system and its disorders. When she took a fellowship at Children's Hospital, Washington, D.C., in 1962, she worked with Dr. Richmond Paine, a noted pediatric neurologist. That experience led her to another residency in neurology at Georgetown University. She took a full-time academic position at Georgetown, teaching pediatric neurology to medical students and residents, and established her clinical practice.

When her children were born in 1966 and 1971, she realized that there was a lot more to caring for an infant than she had been led to believe in medical school. "Although I was a doctor, I was totally unprepared when I had my first baby. So much that I thought I 'knew' turned out to be different." One thing she learned was how difficult it was to be a working mother, even with a nanny and babysitter, which many women couldn't afford. In 1973 se campaigned for childcare tax deductions, a provision which was made law in 1976 to the benefit of working women in various professions.

Schuelein has been an effective medical legal consultant and spokesperson for patients and physicians on many other issues as well, from ethics, licensing, and malpractice to international adoptions and problems in dealing with insurance companies. She has also served as president of the Cosmos Club, a prestigious association of scientists and other notables.

Schuelein credits her accomplishments to "an extremely supportive husband," good kids, and summer vacations with helping her maintain a balance in her life and find the time and energy she needs for her patients, students, and consulting. Despite the long hours, she is dedicated to her work and grateful that as a tenured professor, she will never be forced to retire.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

Since I've been in two departments (pediatrics and neurology), my identification with each is less solid than it would have been I suppose with one, even though I try to do the work that is expected in both. Also, advancement in title has not been readily coming, despite recognition by outside facilities (Board of Medicine, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as Examiner, president of Cosmos Club, etc.) Lack of publication is always mentioned, but perhaps the gender problem has raised its head over the years. Many of my male colleagues with few publications have had more advanced titles.

How did I make a difference?

I have a busy private practice. I see adults and children. My special interest is in pediatric neurology, but I also do adult neurology... I do a lot of other things other than see patients.

For the past fifteen years, I have also examined physicians who want to qualify for specialty certification in pediatric neurology and in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. I have given lectures and organized symposia and have been very involved in the politics of medicine through the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and through other organizations. I was also a member of the Board of Medicine in the District of Columbia for ten years, and acting chair for one. That's the board that grants doctors licenses and also takes them away. I serve also on the Professional Standards Committee of the Medical Society of D.C. We review many of the same allegations, and often refer to the Board of Medicine so they may consider disciplinary action. In the 1970s, I was president of the Woman's Medical Association of the District of Columbia. That year, as I said, I employed two full-time people to help me with my children. I was probably earning $20,000 a year. My helpers cost probably $10,000 or 12,000 and taxes was taking all the rest. I thought it was really terrible that women could not deduct child care in those days from their income tax. I could go to lunch with a friend, and I could deduct that as long as he was a doctor, but I couldn't deduct child care. So I made an appointment as president of the Woman's Medical Association with Al Ulman who was Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and I told him about this. He was very cordial and I went home. About five years later this became law, that you could deduct child care, and I thought, "Well, isn't it nice that somebody finally realized what I had been saying all along.".

Who was my mentor?

[In New York City's public elementary schools] I was lucky because my teachers seemed to like me and really inspired me tremendously. After elementary school I went to junior high school at the same school and then I went to Hunter College High School in New York City. I had one outstanding teacher, Barbara Keyser, who became the headmistress at Madeira.

How has my career evolved over time?

In medical school, I especially enjoyed neurology and tried to take an elective with Richmond Paine [a pediatric neurologist at Children's Hospital], but could not because he was going to be out of the country during the time I had available. My choice for internship was between neurology and pediatrics. I finally chose pediatrics since neurology, with the complicated anatomy of the nervous system seemed too difficult.

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